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Captains announced, team awards presented at annual Football Dinner


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Four seniors were announced as the permanent football team captains to put the finishing touches on the 2013 Golden Eagle season, and team award winners were announced at Tennessee Tech's annual Football Awards Dinner Sunday afternoon. The team also celebrated the 12 players who made up its Senior Class.

Offensive lineman James Normand, runningback Bud Golden, defensive end Malcolm Mitchell and defensive tackle Lamar Moore were introduced by head coach Watson Brown as the choice of their teammates to serve as permanent captains of the 2013 season.

The top honor of the day was the announcement of senior defensive lineman Jordan Johnson (photo below) as winner of the 60th annual Robert Hill Johnson Award. Johnson started every game in 2013 and played 39 in his career. This year he had 38 total tackles including 6.5 tackles-for-loss. He also blocked two kicks, and was named the OVC Special Teams Player of the Week.

The Robert Hill Johnson Award was established in 1952, and is considered the most prestigious award presented to a Golden Eagle player each year.

The team's Academic Award went to Normand, a senior from Oak Ridge, Tenn., who  earned his accounting degree in three years and played his final season as a graduate student while beginning work toward a master's degree in accounting degree. Normand started all 12 contests as a senior, and finished his career with 36 starts. The Sonny Allen Team Leadership Award was also presented to Normand.

Senior linebacker Blake Adams won the Unsung Hero Award. An interdisciplinary studies major from Stone Mountain, Ga., Adams played in played in 44 games in his four-year career, including all 12 games as a senior. He ranked third on the team in total tackles with a career-best 66.


Jordan Johnson (left) accepts the Robert Hill Johnson Award from
Bill and
Rena Johnson, and head coach Watson Brown (right).

The Tech Pride Award was presented to linebacker Seth McDonald, a senior from Sparta, Tenn., who saw action in all 12 games in his final season. A backup linebacker, he also played on special teams and as a fullback in short yardage situations.

Two players shared the Bill Dupes Inspiration Award. It went to linebacker Jerry King and defensive back Cory McDonald. A senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., King overcame injuries that had sideined him off-and-on throughout his career, and played in seven games. He was a vocal leader, both on and off the field. McDonald, a senior from Redwood City, Calif., played in all 12 contests and made 38 tackles with one interception.

The Tony Stone Bumble Bee DB Award was presented to safety Marty Jones, a junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, who returned from two years of injuries that kept him out of action. Jones, who was also won the award as Most Valuable Defensive Player, finished the year ranked second on the team and fourth in the OVC with 98 total tackles. He also led the squad with two interceptions, had five tackles-for-loss, one fumble forced and two fumbles recovered.

The Most Valuable Offensive Player honor went to quarterback Darian Stone, a junior from Clinto, Tenn. Despite being hampered by injuries, Stone was the team's leading rusher with 536 yards and seven touchdowns, and also passed for 1,008 yards and four touchdowns.

Punter Chad Zinchini received the Most Valuable Special Teams Player Award. A senior from Hendersonville, Tenn., Zinchini won for the second straight year after leading the OVC and ranking second in the nation in punting average. He was a first-team all-OVC selection and second-team All-America winner.

Five additional MVP Awards were presented to position players.

In the trenches, Wesley Sherrill was named the Most Valuable Offensive Lineman and Malcolm Mitchell received the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman awards. Sherrill, a senior from Antioch, Tenn., finished his career with 36 starts while playing, at times, both guard and tackle. Mitchell, a senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., ranked eight on the team overall and tops on the defensive line, with 47 tackles. He led Tech and ranked among OVC leaders with 13 quarterback sacks and 7.5 tackles-for-loss.

The other MVP honors were for linebacker, receiver and offensive back.

Tra'Darius Goff, a junior from Coumbia, Tenn., was named the Most Valuable Linebacker winner for the second consecutive year. He led Tech and ranked second in the OVC (by one tackle) with 101 total tackles, topping the 100-tackle plateau for the second straight time. He had three sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered two.

The Most Valuable Receiver honor went to Zack Ziegler, a senior from Greenbrier, Tenn., who missed the final four games of the year with an injury and still led Tech with 30 catches for for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

The Most Valuable Offensive Back award was presented to two players. It was shared by Stephen Bush, a junior from Cookeville, Tenn., and Bud Golden, a senior from Cincinnati. Bush was third on the team in rushing with 306 yards and tied for the team lead with seven touchowns. He also caught six passes for 53 yards. Golden finally got onto the field in the fifth game of the season, but only played three quarters before suffering a season-ending leg injury. Still, in his brief playing stint, Golden made a huge difference in the game by bulldozing his way for 38 key yards and two touchdowns.

The final activity at the dinner was a recognition of the team's 12 senior players, many of them joined by their parents and family members. The seniors inluded:

LB Blake Adams, Stone Mountain, Ga.
RB Bud Golden, Cincinnati, Ohio
DL Jordan Johnson, Miami, Fla.
LB Jerry King, Stone Mountain, Ga.
DB Cory McDonald, Redwood City, Calif.
LB Seth McDonald, Sparta, Tenn.
DE/LB Malcolm Mitchell, Stone Mountain, Ga.
DL Lamar Moore, Nashville, Tenn.
OL James Normand, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
OL Wesley Sherrill, Antioch, Tenn.
WR Zack Ziegler, Greenbrier, Tenn.
P Chad Zinchini, Hendersonville, Tenn.